Monday, September 21, 2015

Gluten Free Pizza on the Big Green Egg

I purchased some flour from Thomas Keller's Cup4Cup line and finally tried it this past weekend and it blew me away!!!! I have tried almost every flour blend out there and usually I find myself pretending to enjoy the GF version, when in reality they are rather dense and have that strange grainy aftertaste. But not this blend. This blend was hands down the best I've tried, so I had to share.

4 cups Cup4Cup Pizza flour
1 bottle gluten free beer
1 yeast packet
1 egg
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Pour the beer into a microwave safe dish and heat until it reaches 105 degrees. add the yeats packet, stir and let it start working it's magic for about 10 minutes. Then in a mixer, add the remaining ingredients, pour in the beer and knead until the dough is smooth. Place it in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise a few hours. It can be ready to cook, or place it in the fridge a few days to really get the yeast working and enrich the flavor.

This crust requires a par cook. I preheated the Big Green Egg to 500 degrees, rolled out the dough and pinched the edges in to form a crust. I brushed the top and bottom with olive oil and placed it on the pizza stone in the grill for about 5 minutes. I used crushed San Marzano tomato, cheese, pepperoni, veggies and popped it back in the egg for about 7 minutes until the topping melted. This was truly outstanding and a wonderful way to wrap up a great weekend hanging out with friends poolside.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Bee Cave "Original Recipe" Chicken & Pork Poppers

It's a rainy Memorial Day and while normally we'd be sitting poolside throwing something on the grill, we are forced indoors due to much needed rain and grey skies. It gives one pause to think of those who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. Granted, everyone likes a day off to sleep in and let loose, but the significance of the day weighs heavy on the mind. I was named after my great uncle who was killed by vicious Germans in the Ardennes Forest during WWI. He was only 27 years old but apparently a brave and kind young man who's life was cut short fighting for what was right and good. I'm proud to carry his name.

Since we are indoors and may have a few friends over later, we decided to make some small bites. As a girl I loved Kentucky Fried Chicken like no one's business (except for my grandmother's recipe which was like no other). The original KFC recipe was so tasty and back then they weren't using these freakish lab chickens (so cruel) and harmful GMO stuff. Apparently they did use MSG, and since I'm allergic to it, I'm better off having not enjoyed KFC since the late 80s. These little meatball poppers have a taste surprisingly similar to the KFC original recipe and are delicious little morsels that also freeze quite well.


1.5 pounds ground chicken thighs
1.5 pounds ground pork (the pork adds a nice richness)
1 small yellow onion
1 small bunch of parsley
2 organic eggs
4 spring onions- light green parts only
2 tbs onion powder
2 tbs garlic powder
2 tbs paprika
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste
1.5 tbs chicken soup base
1 tsp celery salt
a few pinches of dried sage

In a food processor finely chop onions, parsley and eggs. Add mixture to meat with the seasonings and blend well. Form into meatballs and deep fry in grapeseed or peanut oil preheated to 350 degrees for about 4 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Serve on skewers or toothpicks for easy finer food. Goes great with Ranch, honey mustard or tzaziki sauce for dipping.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Gluten Free Wild Berry Clafoutis

A friend from work recently delivered a precious baby boy so we made them dinner and as I stopped by our local French restaurant Artisan to pick up a baguette, Chef had just pulled out a stunning looking clafoutis for that night's dinner service. It smelled heavenly and was dotted with fresh strawberries and I've been thinking of it ever since.

So last night I spotted some frozen wild berries in my freezer and thought how about I try my hand at making a gluten free, low glycemic version of that decadent clafoutis from the bistro? It turned out to be pretty fabulous! So I thought I'd add it to my list of things to cook in the future. I've added some tweaks to make it paleo or dairy free as well.

4 large organic eggs
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup gluten free flour or 1/4 cup coconut flour and 1/4 cup almond flour
1 cup milk (or cococnut milk or almond milk)
2 tablespoons melted butter (or coconut oil)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup berries
2 tbs cream cheese (For added richness)
Dash of sea salt

In a large bowl mix everything but the berries.

Pour in a cast iron skillet or baking dish, sprinkle with berries and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven about 40-50 minutes until just set.

It resembles a souffle on top and flan in the middle and is comforting, tasty and super easy!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cauliflower Coconut Soup

I had some leftover cauliflower and baby carrots from a crudite platter and a can of coconut milk in the pantry and thought, why not a Thai inspired soup for lunch on a gorgeous, sunny day? This was super easy and tasted like a bowl of sunshine.

Sliced onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tbs coconut oil
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
salt to taste
1 can coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
3 dashes Thai fish sauce

Preheat oven to 385 and roast veggies and spices in coconut oil about 40 minutes until tender and slightly carmelized. then in a blender mix veggies with a can of coconut milk, lime juice and fish sauce. Puree until smooth, reheat in a pot and serve in warm bowls garnished with cilantro or scallions.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Carbonnade- Belgian Beef & Beer Stew

This weekend we had our first cold snap and while we were floating in the pool and grilling kabobs on Friday evening, we were snuggled inside while a chilly rain settled on us by Saturday morning. The weather was reminiscent of my childhood days visiting my mother's family in Belgium and it was a perfect day to prepare a slowly braised stew.

While the French classic beef stew, or beef bourguignon, is made with red wine, the Belgian version known as Carbonnade au Flamandes is made with delicious Belgian beer. The result is a slightly sweet and sour stew that freezes well for quick reheating on a cold evening. Belgium has two distinct cultures- the Flemmish (Dutch relation) and the Waloons. The latter speak french and reside in the southeastern part of the country and this is where my family originated; primarily from the Liege and the Ardennes before settling in Bruxelles. One interesting note I read in a cookbook, The Food and Cooking of Belgium, by Suzanne Vandyck was that since Belgium was at the head of the spice trade in the 16th century, its cooking was far advanced than those found in neighboring France or Germany! Take that snooty Frenchies!! Poor Belgium also does not get credit for inventing the "French Fry". One of my fondest and first culinary memories is of Les Friteries, or french fry carts that dotted the city of Bruxelles. Hot, fresh frites are served with a dollop of mayonnaise and wrapped tightly in a paper cone. Perhaps I should open a few around Austin as I'm certain they would be a huge hit?

My husband is an avid beer lover, so naturally he prefers the carbonnade to the French bourguignon version. Served with rustic toast smeared in mustard and dunked in the stew alongside a Belgian ale, it is hearty and satisfying. Since I must strictly avoid gluten and wheat, I have had to adapt the recipe to use gluten free beer such as Bards, but I STRONGLY suggest using a Belgian beer such as Chimay bleu or Trappistes Rocheford. However my gluten free version is still outstanding if not quite as rich as if I'd used a traditional Belgian beer. One final note- this can be made in an hour if cooked in a pressure cooker, but I prefer low and slow for 5-7 hours in the oven at 220. It tastes better reheated the next day.

3 pounds chuck roast cut into uniform sized 1 inch cubes, thoroughly dried with a paper towel
4 tbs butter
3 tbs flour (Or gluten free flour such as Cup 4 Cup)
1 slice thick bacon, cut into 1 inch strips
1 tbs grapeseed oil
6 cups Belgian Beer
2 cups rich beef stock
1 beef bouillon cube
1 tbs worsterchire
1 tsp red wine or sherry vinegar
1 tbs brown sugar
1 large onion cut into strips
1 large carrot cut into 1 inch chunks
1 stalk of celery
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and gently smashed with the side of a knife
2 dried bay leaf
Bouquet Garni- Several sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 sprig fresh rosemary, several sprigs fresh parsley tied with kitchen string.
Fresh pepper to taste

1.) In a large enamel Dutch Oven, melt the butter and add the onions, celery and carrot with the sugar, flour, dash of Worcestershire and a few dashes of beer. Cover and cook onions on medium low for 30 minutes to caramelize.

2.) Meanwhile in a large frying pan, melt bacon until fat renders, add grapeseed oil and when the pan is screaming hot, brown the meat, one pound at a time so as to not crowd the pan which would steam the meat instead of sear it. Sear the cubes about 3 minutes until a brown crust forms on the outside. Reserve the meat on a plate.

3.) You may want to scrape up the brown bits in between browning batches with a little beer and pour that into the onions. Just add more fresh oil to the pan before searing the next batch. This step makes a rich and flavorful base for the stew.

4.) Once meat is browned and onions have softened and started to turn golden, add meat to onions in the large pot, the rest of the beer and herb bundle plus bay leaves and bouillon cube. Cover and let it work its magic in the oven at 220 for 5-7 hours. Serve in warm bowls and sprinkle with fresh parsley and steamed potatoes or Belgian Frites (Fries).

Though the dunked mustard smeared bread is a winning combination, a fresh green salad can lighten up the meal but it should definitely be served with a glass of Belgian beer.  As my mother would say before tucking into a great feast, "Attaquons!!"  ATTACK!!

Makes about 6 servings

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Drunken BBQ Baked Beans

We have friends coming in town this weekend, so that means BBQ! I came up with this recipe based on the BBQ beans at Houston's restaurant and they are rich and meaty and absolutely delicious.

What makes these so good? BOURBON & BEER!!

2 cups navy beans, soaked in water overnight. OR a can of white beans or pintos.
2 thick slices of bacon
1/4 pound ground pork
1 medium red onion, finely diced
3 tbs Bourbon
1 can lager beer
1/2 cup sweet BBQ sauce (We like Rufus Teagues, Honey Sweet) 
Serves 4

In a pot, cook bacon and ground pork until bacon is crisp. Remove bacon and pork and drain on a paper towel then add onions and bourbon and caramelize them on medium low heat about 40 minutes until sweet and soft.

Then add a bottle of lager beer and raise heat to medium high and simmer about 15 minutes to cook of alcohol. Add beans, pork, bacon and BBQ sauce and cook over low heat for an hour. These taste even better when cooked the day before and reheated in a low oven.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ideal Protein Phase 1 Recipes

     It's not hard to tell from my blog that I LOVE cooking AND eating, and while I try to eat a well balanced, organic diet I'm constantly fighting the battle of the bulge. I work out 3-4 times a week with a fabulous and dedicated personal trainer who has become my friend, confidant and cheerleader. We were both flummoxed as to why I wasn't shedding weight. I'll tell you why: CARBS and too much RED WINE. I honestly don't want to be an over sharing sort of person, but people like me who derive reward and pleasure from food while suffering a slow metabolism face an uphill battle. Americans are getting fatter and unhealthier than ever before and I place a lot of blame on sedentary lifestyles, overly busy and stressful schedules, enormous serving portions and the constant barrage from the food and restaurant industry to eat, eat, eat. Our brains are wired to seek pleasure and reward and to prefer foods high in sugar, fat and salt (some of us are genetically predisposed to enjoy this more than others).

     Remember the size of a large coke at McDonald's back in the 80s (those of you alive then)? It was close to the size of a SMALL coke now.  Eating out was an occasional treat, but now has become the norm as our society is racing around trying to keep up with insanely packed schedules. Though I complained royally while growing up, I ate dinner with my parents every evening in the dining room with candles and relaxing music in the background. We unfurled from the day's stresses together over a thoughtfully prepared meal; a rarity in today's American society. (Ok, so as a teen I rolled my eyes a lot, instigated squabbles and couldn't wait to get back on the phone with friends ). Look around you next time you are driving- how many people do you see eating and drinking in their cars? Or walking around with gigantic sugar laden coffee drinks? That is almost unheard of in Europe.

     Recently I was dining at the Cheesecake Factory for a lunch meeting and couldn't help notice about 3/4 of the guests were overweight or obese. I remember as a child that there was typically one overweight boy or girl in my class, yet now I notice close to half the kids unloading from the school bus are pretty husky. They race right home to sit idle in front of the computer and rarely are spotted playing outside. I don't think I've seen a teenage boy in over a decade mowing a yard in my neighborhood??

     Soooooo.... I read a very interesting book that really uncovers the psychology of over eating and the obesity dilemma in America. The book The End of Overeating, was written by former FDA commissioner David Kessler and explores exactly why this has become an epidemic in America and how we can take control and stop it. We really have been taken advantage of by the food industry and this book was a major eye opener which caused me to explore pretty extreme measures to get my weight back on track. I have seen several people successfully lose weight and keep it off with the Ideal Protein diet. On a recent trip to my fabulous doctor, she informed me I looked to be on the border of becoming insulin resistant, or pre-diabetic. This was alarming and inspiring all at the same time. I need accountability to achieve success and I use it with my personal trainer, in my business and quickly realized that I needed it with my diet as well. So I chose to follow the Ideal Protein diet and confess I wasn't a huge fan of my coach the first time I met her because she is NO NONSENSE and I saw her as a sadist. Now I think she is an angel. The first few days were ROUGH and I was grumpy or "Hangry" and feeling remorseful and deprived, until day number four when I woke up feeling energetic and vibrant. That was two weeks ago and I'm down ten pounds and eight inches and have not had this much energy since I was in my early twenties. Cutting out ALL sugar and carbs has made a magnificent transformation and I hope I have the willpower to stick with this for two more months until I hit my goal weight.

     A few things I do not like about the diet is that the shakes and soups are very high in sodium and contain artificial ingredients- but I see it as temporary until my system has rid itself of the fat and I can begin to transition back into a healthy and regulated diet. As much as I love my red wine and gluten free carbs, they are not good for me, so I need to make a lifestyle change to prevent health issues down the road. As I mentioned, the first three days were pretty tough, but I kept my head in the game, faced the challenge and am reaping the rewards. I am allowed 4 cups of raw veggies (except starchy ones), 8 ounces of lean protein for dinner and the rest is shakes and soups. Kind of rough at first since my career involves wining and dining, but as they say, "Nothing tastes better than thin AND healthy". Sparkling water and celery sticks please!!

Here are a few IP dinner meals I've made that have been delicious and rewarding.

6 oz.  Grass fed, local beef patty with watercress dressed in meyer lemon and a dash of oil along with roasted cauliflower and broccoli.

Cold Water Lobster? But of course!!
I'm not going to "sugar coat" things, I'm pretty ravenous once dinner rolls around, so I don't have time to set up a shoot and make it all pretty- I need to tuck in! But this little wonder pictured above was an 8 ounce grilled lobster tail with charred, grilled brocollini and fresh lemon. Excellent!

Pan Roasted Chicken wrapped in Prosciutto

Chicken Wrapped in Prosciutto
I marinaded some chicken cutlets in Greek seasoning and lemon, wrapped in prosciutto and roasted in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes. I made a pan sauce for the hubby by deglazing the pan with some brandy and chicken stock. Served it on a bed of mashed potatoes for him, but for me I had steamed broccoli and made my own mashers with half a packet of Ideal Protein potato soup mix pureed with cauliflower braised in fat free chicken stock. It was actually pretty good! I have a huge salad every night dressed with fresh lemon and one teaspoon of olive oil. I'm thankful for the Whole Foods salad bar for offering up great daily variety.

Another hearty dinner was flash grilled skirt steak marinaded in sherry vinegar, onion powder, fresh garlic and parsley with grilled veggies.

I found this interesting way to serve cauliflower on the internet. Yes, I cheated a bit by brushing the head with Greek Yogurt as dairy is forbidden, but I need to give myself a break! I steamed the cauliflower for 15 minutes then marinaded it 3 hours in Greek yogurt, 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp tumeric, 1 tbs onion powder and 1 tsp garlic powder and lemon juice. Grilled it indirectly at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. It was super and fed me as a side dish for 4 days.
 You could puree leftovers with the IP leek soup for a velvety smooth and rewarding lunch served with, you guessed it- a big fresh salad. IP only approves Walden Farms salad dressings and in my opinion they are disgusting. So I make my own with cider vinegar, fresh herbs, dijon, shallots and a dash of olive oil. Speaking of disgusting.... the IP Omelet powdered mix is repulsive. I cried a little when I first tasted it, the texture was foamy and unnatural, so I've "cheated" by eating 3 organic local egg whites and still lost weight. I have to draw the line somewhere and the clever little rebel Catholic school girl in me inwardly smiles :-)

Speaking of naughty... I never fancied myself one with a sweet tooth as I prefer savory foods, but let me tell you I eagerly anticipate my evening Ideal Protein pudding. Two great options to spice them up a bit:

Spicy Salted Chocolate Pudding
Blend 4 oz cold spring water with dark chocolate pudding mix, a dash of cayenne pepper, pinch of stevia and sprinkling of sea salt.

Spiced Butterscotch Pudding
Blend 4 oz cold spring water, packet of butterscotch pudding mix, pumkin pie seasoning and pinch of stevia. Sprinkle of sea salt. 

This blog has several recipes that could easily be adapted for a low carb diet such as Ideal Protein, so here's to our HEALTH!!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Beer Can" Chicken on the Big Green Egg

Sadly our egg got a crack in the fire box, but luckily the Big Green Egg has a lifetime warranty, so they replaced the parts free of charge. This warranted a trip to BBQ Outfitters, where we picked up the new parts and their ceramic "Sittin' Chicken" stand, which emulates beer can chicken without the bad paint chemicals leaching into my organic, happily raised, free-roaming chook. This was hands down the VERY BEST chicken we have EVER EATEN. EVER!!!!!

Glorious. Thank you sweet little chook.

Here's how it went down...

Brine the chicken in 1/4 cup fine grain sea salt, 2 quarts water, a sliced lemon, 4 bay leaves, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tbs onion powder, fresh thyme for 8 hours. Rinse. Pat dry and let it air chill in the fridge for an hour. Crack some fresh pepper all over the chicken plus some garlic and onion powder. We stuffed some sinful truffle butter under the skin of the breast for good measure.

Meanwhile, light the grill and bring it to 400 degrees.

Pour a bottle of beer in the stand (As an homage to my Belgian heritage we used a delicious Belgian beer called Blanche de Bruxelles). We added fresh rosemary, another bay leaf, a celery stick and a few sprigs fresh thyme to the beer. Stuck the stand in the chook's bum and roasted it about an hour until the skin was crisp and the chicken was cooked through. We let it rest under a tent of foil for 20 minutes before carving and reduced the remainder of the beer/chicken juice over low heat in a pot with a dash of sherry vinegar until reduced by half.

Drizzled the sauce over the chook and garnished with fresh tarragon and a fresh tomato salad. THIS is what summer is all about. 

Pugs reflecting on the perfect summer dinner and dreaming of chicken bites.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

White Bean & Roasted Tomato Dip

Before Austin hit the map with its celebrity chefs and renowned restaurants we were literally starving for casual, yet upscale places to have a bite. While we were in college in the 90s there were a small handful of great places, but most of Austin was fraught with chain restaurants, greasy college grub joints, inferior Tex Mex and mediocre BBQ.

And then suddenly around 1997 our little college town started earning its culinary PhD. St Edward's was flanked by grubby South Congress, which was riddled with a few funky shops, prostitutes (and the senators that loved them), XX movie theaters and a sprinkling of gang bangers. And then one lucky day, Vespaio opened. Named after the den of wasps found in the walls during the demolition, Vespaio was met hungrily by the small crowd of us who envisioned a more sophisticated, but charming Austin dining scene. We dreamed of the Austin it has become (other than the traffic). And we dreamers happily waited in line for two hours to try the inventive cuisine offered to us. All these years later, she still purrs like a wizened cat among the kittens and we had the most delicious dinner there with old friends recently.

 Culotte of Beef with Bordelaise and White Truffle Risotto.

Pizza with Prosciutto, Arugula & Egg.

This recipe is inspired by the white bean dip we had on our last visit. I loath hummus- not sure why, but I do. Chickpeas just aren't my thing and I always inwardly groan when someone pops open supermarket hummus at get togethers. Blech! But this recipe is vastly different and hopefully will have you thinking of taking a break from hummus.

There are two ways to make this. Easy and fast, or slow cooked and better. I prefer the slow cooked and better method, but will share the easy and fast recipe as well.

2 cups cannellini dried white beans, soaked in cold water overnight. Place them in a heavy pot with a lid and add halved onion, bay leaf and cover beans with two inches of water. Cover and simmer a couple of hours until beans are tender.

While beans are cooking, cut the root of of a whole garlic bulb, drizzle with oil, wrap in foil and roast 30 minutes in a 320 degree oven. If you like them completely mushy and easy to spread on toast, then roast about 45 minutes.

Open a jar of roasted tomatoes soaked in oil- pull out a couple of them for the dip.

Once beans are cooked and garlic is roasted and squeezed from the bulb, add them in a blender with the squeeze of a lemon and a good glug of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons), some sea salt and tomatoes (I used two slivers). Blend until pureed. You could add a little water if it is really thick. Or a few dashes of good wine vinegar if you like it more acidic.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, flaky salt (like Cypress or Maldon salt) and some red pepper flakes. The dip is great with raw veggies or toasted french bread, crackers, spread on a burger. You name it.

Drain and thoroughly rinse a can of cannellini beans, grate a small garlic clove with jarred tomatoes (or red beller pepper), squeeze in a lemon, olive oil and add some salt and puree till smooth. This will still taste great in a pinch, but not as deep in flavor as the low & slow method. And here's one more SUPER EASY way...

Many specialty or upscale grocery stores now have marinated olive bars stocked with great things like marinated beans, garlic, artichokes, peppers. Grab some, take them home and blend them with fresh lemon juice and herbs. EASY!!!

I have fallen in love with these gluten free crackers!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pot Roast with Malbec Sauce- on the Big Green Egg

Comfort food is like a warm hug. I think pot roast is like a bear hug. Add a little malbec and a reduction sauce and now you have a sophisticated version of the classic. This recipe is super easy, serves 4-5 hearty portions and freezes well for reheating after a long day.

4 pound chuck roast
1 bottle of malbec
2.5 cups beef stock
4 bay dried leaves
6 garlic cloves, peeled & slightly smashed to release flavor
1 large carrot, sliced into large chunks
1 medium onion
1 tbs olive oil
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 tbs fresh cracked pepper

In a large ziploc bag or storage container, pour 3/4 bottle of malbec wine & 1/2 cup beef stock over roast. Add garlic cloves, bay leaves and thyme. Seal and marinate overnight in the fridge.

Ready for the Big Green Egg

We decided to cook the roast on our Big Green Egg, low and slow at 250 for 4.5 hours, but you could do the same in a dutch oven or heavy pot in your oven. Or a crockpot!

In my pot I heated up the olive oil over medium high heat and placed an onion cut in half with the cut side down to cook until golden brown and caramelized. About 12 minutes. Adjust the heat to not burn it, but make certain there is a nice browning as this adds depth of flavor to your roast. Add the carots about 8 minutes in.

Then add the roast, marinade and herbs. Cover and place in oven or on the Big Green Egg and cook about 4.5 hours until fork tender and easily shredded.

 Three hours in.... almost ready.

While there is about 45 minutes remaining before the roast is ready, I whip up mashed potatoes and make a delicious reduction sauce to drizzle over the roast.

over a double boiler (a pot placed over another pot filled with water), I add the remaining malbec wine and 2 cups of chicken stock and stirring often I reduce the sauce until it is reduced to a cup or is syrupy in consistency. A whisk works well and if you need to speed things up, just turn up the heat and whisk away until it's reduced, but I do it low and slow and easy for 45 minutes.

Serve the roast on a bed of mashers, with something green and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.